Even though M.I.A. wasn’t the last main stage band of the night, the entire population of the festival seemed to have descended upon the caldera in a frenzy. The low hum of anticipation was infectious as it rippled through the crowd. Several fans had been waiting all day for this set and managed to get up to the front, but the crush of every person behind them pushing forward was getting overwhelming. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the staying power of these folks, fighting dehydration and exhaustion just to see this British-Sri Lankan hip hop star, but it was well worth it. As the sound effects of a prize fighter filled the Gorge, M.I.A. bounded on stage with her three dancers with every note, dance step and shout to the crowd just as energetic as the last.
Supposedly something extra special was planned for the second to last song of her set, but any excuse to see more of her was a good one. As one of the final songs began, lighted peace signs rose up off the stage and out into the night air… then flipped so they were pointed down on us; it was at that moment I realized they were attached to remote controlled drones. They hovered above the stage for a few minutes and moved around, but I have a strong feeling there was meant to be more to it than that, because it was pretty underwhelming. But, like I said, any excuse to hang out and see more of her set was fine by me. While I don’t necessarily buy into all the lyrics that escape her lips, she’s a lot of fun to watch. It’s completely obvious she loves her fans and wants to put on a spectacle for them; she wanted to be an entertainer, not just come out and sing. Those are the times you remember from long weekends of band after band. The music is great, the performance is genuine, but it’s so hard to capture our attention and keep it, making a lasting memory. M.I.A. didn’t suffer from this malady.